The Forgetful Grandpa
I came across this article about language, brains and Alzheimer’s. A Canadian study shows bilingualism has protective effect in delaying onset of dementia by four years.
I thought of my grandfather. He had always been this crazy old man for as long as I could remember. He would point at our elementary school geography textbook and said he learned those facts in college. We children used to laugh at him, wondering whether he did go to college or not. Later I learned to associate his memory loss with Alzheimer’s.
He liked to read newspapers and magazines. His reading capability deteriorated as the disease got the better of him. First he could finish the entire paper from first page to last. Then he could only finish 4 pages, then down to 2 … I remember seeing him, using his finger, trying to write out the Chinese characters on his leg. That didn’t help either. Finally he couldn’t even finish half a page in one long day.
His pro-West tendency was especially demonstrated when he stubbornly pushed us to learn English and insisted we should study abroad one day. He died one month after I arrived in US.
There is always the fear in me that the disease that claimed my grandpa’s brain will eat me away slowly when I get old. There is no time to worry about it though. We only have time to live life to its fullest, to explore the world, to live the dreams and good lives that all grandparents had hoped for their grandchildren. When the day does come, I know I would also put up a good fight just like grandpa did.